Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press

Convenience Store Woman

by Sayaka Murata

The English-language debut of an exciting young voice in international fiction, selling 660,000 copies in Japan alone, Convenience Store Woman is a bewitching portrayal of contemporary Japan through the eyes of a single woman who fits in to the rigidity of its work culture only too well

  • Imprint Grove Hardcover
  • Page Count 176
  • Publication Date June 12, 2018
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-2825-6
  • Dimensions 5" x 7"
  • US List Price $20.00
  • Imprint Grove Hardcover
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-6580-0

About the Book

Keiko Furukura had always been considered a strange child, and her parents always worried how she would get on in the real world, so when she takes on a job in a convenience store while at university, they are delighted for her. For her part, in the convenience store she finds a predictable world mandated by the store manual, which dictates how the workers should act and what they should say, and she copies her coworkers’ style of dress and speech patterns so that she can play the part of a normal person. However, eighteen years later, at age 36, she is still in the same job, has never had a boyfriend, and has only few friends. She feels comfortable in her life, but is aware that she is not living up to society’s expectations and causing her family to worry about her. When a similarly alienated but cynical and bitter young man comes to work in the store, he will upset Keiko’s contented stasis—but will it be for the better?

Sayaka Murata brilliantly captures the atmosphere of the familiar convenience store that is so much part of life in Japan. With some laugh-out-loud moments prompted by the disconnect between Keiko’s thoughts and those of the people around her, she provides a sharp look at Japanese society and the pressure to conform, as well as penetrating insights into the female mind. Convenience Store Woman is a fresh, charming portrait of an unforgettable heroine that recalls Banana Yoshimoto, Han Kang, and Amélie.

Tags Literary


Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2018 by Electric Literature
Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2018 by April Magazine

“A sly take on modern work culture and social conformism, told through one woman’s 18-year tenure as a convenience store employee . . . Murata provides deceptively sharp commentary on the narrow social slots people—particularly women—are expected to occupy and how those who deviate can inspire bafflement, fear, or anger in others . . . Murata skillfully navigates the line between the book’s wry and weighty concerns and ensures readers will never conceive of the ‘pristine aquarium’ of a convenience store in quite the same way. A unique and unexpectedly revealing English language debut.”—Kirkus Reviews

“What a weird and wonderful and deeply satisfying book this is. Sayaka Murata is an utterly unique and revolutionary voice. I tore through Convenience Store Woman with great delight.”—Jami Attenberg, New York Times bestselling author of The Middlesteins and All Grown Up

“A darkly comic, deeply unsettling examination of contemporary life, of alienation, of capitalism, of identity, of conformity. We’ve all been to this convenience store, whether it’s in Japan or somewhere else.”—Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sympathizer

Convenience Store Woman is a gem of a book. Quirky, deadpan, poignant, and quietly profound, it is a gift to anyone who has ever felt at odds with the world—and if we were truly being honest, I suspect that would be most of us.”—Ruth Ozeki, author of A Tale for the Time Being

“This is a story about what’s normal and not, a drama played on a stage so violently plain it becomes as vivid and surprising as an alien planet. I loved Convenience Store Woman: its brevity, its details, its opinions about life.”—Robin Sloan, author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

“I picked up this novel on a trip to Japan and couldn’t put it down. A haunting, dark, and often hilarious take on society’s expectations of the single woman. As an extra bonus, it totally transformed my experience of going to convenience stores in Tokyo.”—Elif Batuman, author of The Idiot

Convenience Store Woman is a mighty fine book, completely charming. Sayaka Murata is a wonderful writer.”—Rabih Alameddine, author of An Unnecessary Woman

“Instructions: Open book. Consume contents. Feel charmed, disturbed, and weirdly in love. Do not discard.”—Jade Chang, author of The Wangs Vs. the World

“This novel made me laugh. It was the first time for me to laugh in this way: it was absurd, comical, cute . . . audacious, and precise. It was overwhelming.”—Hiromi Kawakami, author of The Nakano Thrift Shop



“Witty, wily, and astonishingly sharp, Convenience Store Woman proves that the deepest gouges can come from the lightest touch.”—Lisa McInerney, author of The Glorious Heresies

Convenience Store Woman is snarky and tender. It shows a woman trying to puzzle out how to be normal. This brilliant book will resonate with all of us who find life a little strange.”—Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, author of Harmless Like You

“I think the riskiest kind of novel is the one that tries to rescue us from mundane existence—by taking a closer look at mundane existence . . . In this context, it is easy to say that Murata-san’s novel is a major breakthrough. Convenience Store Woman is not an explosion of candor, but it manages to both be cool to the touch and have depths of warmth in presenting to us a heroine who feels at a remove from the world around her. This is a fine high wire act to walk. One of the finest I have seen in a long time from so young a writer.”—John Freeman, Literary Hub

“A hilarious novel . . . Convenience Store Woman mocks the culture of work, the employee’s devotion to their patron saint, and pokes fun at the conservative mindset. For what is a young woman worth if she has neither professional ambition nor a desire to get married?”—Marie-France (France)

“A portrait of the challenge of being different in an ultra-policed society that ostracizes anyone who deviates even slightly from the norm . . . a bittersweet satire.”—Livres-Hebro (France)

“A love story pulled out of the deep-freeze shelves of the heart . . . brilliant . . . not a word too many, nor one too few . . . true love is the simple and beautiful moral of this unusual yet uplifting story.”—Die Zeit (Germany)

“This work merely describes the tiny world of a small box—a convenience store . . . yet it packs all the appeal of a [long] novel. In all my ten-plus years on the panel of judges, this is the first time one of the shortlisted works has had me laughing. And somehow that laugh was charged with a profound sense of irony. Bravo Murata-san!”—Amy Yamada

“I was really amazed by Convenience Store Woman and the particular reality it exquisitely portrays . . . [It] minutely translates the sadness, anguish, grief, grumbles, fateful actions etc. of someone who is incapable of uttering the right words, adding layers of details and spinning them into a story . . . I am sincerely delighted that such a novel has come into being.”—Ryu Murakami

“Choosing to give your novel a narrator who is not normal, someone who is aware that there is something strange about herself, is not an easy choice. Flaunting strangeness as a privilege sometimes repels the reader. But Convenience Store Woman skilfully evades this reaction. When the protagonist, a social outcast, is placed within the box of the artificially normalized convenience store, we begin to vividly see the strangeness of the people in the world outside.”—Yoko Ogawa

“Reading something of a person who starts to work in retail and never figures a way out of doing so, years along in doing so—to something else of possible meaning in life—could make for harrowing reading when the reader would seem to have the same issue. That said, Sayaka Murata’s Convenience Store Woman, while at times harrowing in that the intrepid narrator and heart of this extraordinary novel can’t see or name all that a reader might, is a book of longing, charm, sincerity, and subtle, understated knowing.  It speaks to diligence and duty over time, is one of the rare books that really addresses and embodies work, the routine and rhythms of work in a retail store such as so many people do. A wonderful debut from a writer we hope to read much more of in years to come.”—Rick Simonson, Elliott Bay Book Company

“This was a quick, quirky little book that I thoroughly enjoyed. A glimpse into the life of a woman who only feels productive and part of society when she’s working in a convenience store. It was unique and like nothing I’ve read before.”—Christine Onorati, WORD Bookstores

“Keiko Furukura has her life figured out. Sure, she’s in her mid-thirties and works in a convenience store, but she loves her job. One day, however, she decides to give in to convention just a little, and her simple life becomes a lot less fun. Convenience Store Woman is a winning blend of the familiar and the absurd, and readers of this deft little novel will enjoy a trip to a Japan that’s well off the tourist trail.”—David Enyeart, Common Good Books

“If you ever wanted to read an existential fable set mostly in a Japanese quick mart, Sayaka Murata’s Convenience Store Woman is the book for you. Narrator Keiko has never been able to figure out quite how the world wants her to act—that is, until she starts working at an all-night convenience store. There, she can finally, happily, be a cog in the machine. Eighteen years later, her family and friends all beg her to move on and be ‘normal.’ Keiko, not knowing what this means or how to do it, then proceeds to make things much worse. Murata’s delightfully strange novel is at once hilarious, profound, and consistently unsettling.”—Danny Caine, Raven Bookstore

“Sometimes touching and frequently laugh-out-loud funny, Convenience Store Woman is a delightfully sideways tribute to being yourself, no matter what others might think.”—Rebecca Oppenheimer from Kramerbooks & Afterwords

“Keiko is a real outsider’s outsider, the kind of character that sticks to your ribs, and Murata’s writing grips you . . . I look forward to sharing it with customers the traditional bookseller way (shoving it into people’s hands and exclaiming ‘you’ve got to read this!’).”—Devon Dunn, Book Culture

“I fell in love with the tenacious, melancholy, endearing, and funny Keiko. Convenience Store Woman turns without you realizing, from a story of a lonely, odd woman to sly social commentary to an inimitable and unforgettable novel.” —Shuchi Saraswat, Brookline Brooksmith


Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2018 by Electric Literature
Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2018 by April Magazine




A convenience store is a world of sound. From the tinkle of the door chime to the voices of TV celebrities advertising new products over the in-store cable network, to the calls of the store workers, the beeps of the bar code scanner, the rustle of customers picking up items and placing them in baskets, and the clacking of heels walking around the store. It all blends into the convenience store sound that ceaselessly caresses my eardrums.

I hear the faint rattle of a new plastic bottle rolling into place as a customer takes one out of the refrigerator, and look up instantly. A cold drink is often the last item customers take before coming to the checkout till, and my body responds automatically to the sound. I see a woman holding a bottle of mineral water while perusing the desserts and look back down.

As I arrange the display of newly delivered rice balls, my body picks up information from the multitude of sounds around the store. At this time of day, rice balls, sandwiches, and salads are what sell best. Another part-timer, Sugawara, is over at the other side of the store checking off items with a handheld scanner. I continue laying out the pristine, machine-made food neatly on the shelves of the cold display: in the middle I place two rows of the new flavor, spicy cod roe with cream cheese, alongside two rows of the store’s best-selling flavor, tuna mayonnaise, and then I line the less popular dry bonito shavings in soy sauce flavor next to those. Speed is of the essence, and I barely use my head as the rules ingrained in me issue instructions directly to my body.